Adding on a screen-enclosed porch or sunroom might sound like a project that involves more permits and plans and financial investment than some of us are willing to take on, but the process can be surprisingly straightforward and worry-free when you work with a qualified and experienced contractor.
Sunroom or screen enclosure – what’s the difference?
A sunroom – also known as a solarium, garden room, sun porch or Florida room in some regions – is a space added on to a house to let in additional daylight and provide views of the outdoors while NOT letting in rain, snow or other outdoor elements. Typically built with with walls of glass, a sunroom provides months of supplemental living space and light at a substantially lower cost than building an entire whole-room addition would be. A sunroom provides a transition between the inside and out, and while some are wired for electricity, some are not. It can either be custom-built – designed to your exact specifications – or “pre-fab,” which means all supplies and instructions come in a kit. No matter which route you go – kit or custom-built – a building permit will be required in most areas.
A screen-enclosed porch is similar in that it provides an additional close-to-outdoor living space, which can be especially valuable if a home’s backyard area is utilized and enjoyed. The big difference, of course, is the fact that the “walls” aren’t solid at all; they are a mesh screening material that serves to keep out insects, leaves, etc. while allowing the outdoor air to flow easily in and out. A fireplace is sometimes incorporated into the design, or portable heaters or fans added to help make the space more comfortable in very warm or cold times of the year.
When to take this project on.
Although the risk of bad weather is always something to consider when taking on any building project in the cooler, more inclement fall and winter months, this is also the time of year when building contractors are at their most idle, and their rates, perhaps, a bit more reasonable than they would be over the busy spring and summer seasons. Building supplies, too, in the “off” season, will likely be more affordable when there is not such a heavy demand.
How to furnish your new indoor/outdoor space.
A sunroom, typically glass-enclosed, is able to be completely closed off and therefore traditional furnishings can be used – rugs, tables, lighting, chairs and drapes, even – that are not practical with a screened-in enclosure. There are many, many lines of durable furniture, however, that are designed specifically to weather the elements – excessive heat, light and humidity – and are appropriate for a screened-in porch that is much more exposed to the great outdoors.
Is a sunroom or screened-in porch worth the investment?
The cost of building a sunroom varies tremendously based on whether or not you use a kit – with a price tag of anywhere between $15,000 and $35,000 – or you have your sunroom custom-built, which can substantially increase the price. Whether or not the space is wired for electricity or heating – often baseboard heating is used in a sunroom, or fan-driven heaters – also greatly affects the final cost.
A screened-in porch is often more economical because building supplies – mesh screening material rather than glass and no heating or electricity – are less costly all around. The extra space provides an additional seating or dining area that most people value and appreciate, and the investment, in this instance, is almost always worth it.
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